9. Transportation of the troops

I arranged transport for the troops going out on patrol with the objective of clearing the area. Patrols often took place at night and I had to drop them off and pick them up again in the morning. Often the reports were the same: “No activities observed”. Ironically we would take fire from the area where the patrol had been that night and reported no activity.

We called the shots in the cities, but in the jungle and along the roads that were more often then not just dirt tracks with stones run into the sand they called the shots.
Only on Saturdays they would not shoot at us and you could observe the woman walk to the market with baskets on their heads. This was the only day that we could use the roads without fear of being shot at.

I often used the opportunity to go to Turuntung to trade the food that we were served in the mess for fresh fruit and vegetables. We had a cook, a butcher’s son, who was also not a bad cook and could put a good meal on the table with fresh fruit and vegetables.(photo: Sibolga-Turutung )

On of the boys who loved to come with me on the shopping trips was “Tarzan”. I never knew his real name. He was big and strong, hence the nick name, with large tattoos on his arms, who was in for everything and anything.He got through his time in the Dutch Indies without too much damage, but was shot and killed by a policeman in his hometown at Noordwijk, because the officer felt threatened by him during an ordinary pub brawl.

We were part of a small troop of 75 in Siantar and because the lower rank officers had too much on their plates, three soldiers first class and myself were tasked as duty officers. We were responsible overnight for these 75 men and had to wake the cooks and the troop to ensure all would be operational again.

Note in my pocket diary

There is a note in my pocket diary that says:10 September 1947 – 0300 hours, man shot by the guards, taken prisoner and handed to the MP’s (Military Police)
The MP’s used to take care of interrogation of prisoners. I clearly remember one tall blond MP who was very “enthusiastic” with his prisoners and giving the impression he was conducting the interrogations for fun….. One moment you were duty officer and the next the driver again.

I regularly used to make the return trip from Siantar to Medan. Often alone but it could also be in a convoy of three or four. These were early starts at 0600 hours and would see us home again at 1900 hours. For lunch we used to take tins of Brown Beans and place them under the hood on the engine. By the time you were ready to eat the tin would be hot, so that you had a warm meal at lunchtime. This was in the days after the first “Politionele Actions” when the area was still relatively safe, although it was advised not to leave your vehicle.

Part of my job when driving to Medan was collecting the mail for our division as well as the mail for the Infantry stationed in the mountains between Siantar and Medan. They could see me coming down the road from a distance and would send someone to the road to collect the mail.

Once back in Siantar I would stand on a table and hand the mail out to the boys. For those who did not receive any mail I used to make some vague excuses like” Better next time”.

Those who had received mail would retreat to their beds to read it. Everybody was surviving on the mail and parcels from home

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